Memphis media professional adjust to COVID-19 regulations in the workplace

From the WRBL Internship Assignment Desk

This story was produced as part of the WRBL 2020 Summer Intern program

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WRBL) – Television stations across the globe are implementing new regulations in the news media industry because of COVID-19. As a result, media professionals must alter their original method of working to prevent contracting the virus.    

Ladarius Bridgeforth is a Technical Media Producer at WMC-TV 5 in Memphis, Tenn. Bridgeforth is responsible for directing the newscast and operating software in the control room. Mindful that the virus can spread from one person to another, the station has made adjustments in which he takes part in.  

“There have been a lot of changes in the control room. We now have an additional control room for technical media producers and directors. The new control room is located on the second floor,” Bridgeforth said. “During shows and commercials, if we need to communicate with one another, we converse through a speaker. If there is a time where we all must be in the control room, we must remain six feet apart from one another and wear a face mask. No more than three people are allowed in the control room at a time.”   

Bridgeforth says team meetings are now held over Microsoft Teams. 

“Instead of us meeting in a room in close contact with one another, we now meet over Microsoft Teams to discuss things related to the show. We discuss what we liked about the show, what areas we believe the show could improve in and it still feels like we are amongst each other,” Bridgeforth said. 

From monitors to cameras to projectors, there is a series of specialized machinery in a control room. Bridgeforth and others encounter those appliances and are expected to sterilize devices when finished.  

“We have special wipes and disinfectant sprays that we use to wipe the equipment when we are finished. We are careful when using these products because we do not want the moisture to seep in and destroy the equipment,” Bridgeforth said.   

Furthermore, Bridgeforth noticed adjustments other media professionals are making to reduce the spread of COVID-19. One of the most notable changes he observed was the lack of employees in the newsroom. Though the newsroom is sizable, only a few people are allowed in there at a time. In the present circumstances, the majority of media professionals work from home.   

Bridgeforth says higher management requires each employee to have their temperatures checked before entering the building daily and encourages everyone to thoroughly disinfect occupied areas.  

Bridgeforth says there is a third-party cleaning service that sanitizes the entire building in addition to custodial workers who keeps the station clean. 

Bridgeforth realizes that communities in Memphis rely heavily on news media coverage despite the pandemic. Media professionals at the station are willing to adhere to any requirements established by higher management.  

“We are in the middle of a pandemic and it is a mess out here, but we still must do our jobs. Memphians depend on us to deliver a daily newscast and the show must go on. Because of this, everyone is required to wear a facial mask while they are in the building. Everyone must remain six feet apart from one another,” Bridgeforth said. “The team does their part as it pertains to cleaning behind themselves and practicing social distancing. We have a team filled with professionals who are willing to follow any guidelines set in motion.”

Adapting to new changes didn’t occur overnight for Bridgeforth. However, he is in the process of aligning to new measures. 

“It did take some time adjusting to trying to accomplish the same tasks within different ways. I am still adjusting but at this point, I know this is where we are so I’m accepting of it,” Bridgeforth said.

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